Table of Contents

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.

Chapter 32: The third sector as a provider of services for older people

Ewa Leś

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


Historically the third sector in Europe has played the crucial role in the delivery of welfare for older people, and care for the older populations has represented a traditional field of non-profit activity. In the medieval period institutional care for the elderly was provided in a form of hospitals (gerontocomium). For example, in the UK ‘the monasteries and convents had provided institutional care for elderly people, and almshouses (often referred to as hospitals or hospices) were also established by individuals and secular organizations’ (Kendall and Knapp, 1996, p. 212). In Poland the first church hospital was founded in 1108 in Wroc_aw (Le_, 2001). In 1309 in the town of Pozsony (Hungary), citizens set up a local hospital (Kuti, 1993). In the past, non-profit organizations which have provided care have preceded and given way to public services. By the middle of the nineteenth century the state’s responsibilities had grown and, for example, in France, sectarian non-profit care for older people was gradually secularized and became significantly dependent on public funding at state or local level (Archambault, 1997). Until the turn of the 1940s and 1950s, when the postwar programmes for widespread public provisions, including care for older people, were introduced in Europe, the voluntary sector residential homes, often catering for specific religious, ethnic or national groups, supplied services in the UK, Poland, France and other countries of Europe.

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